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Machete entered in evidence in murder trial

November 14, 2014 - 3:38 PM

KAMLOOPS – The jury in a the second-degree murder trial of a Kamloops man inspected an 18-inch long machete entered in evidence in Kamloops Supreme Court Friday morning.

The blade was found by retired Sgt. Steven Gehl, who investigated the forensic evidence in the death of Heather Hamill in 2003.

Robert Donald Balbar is accused of killing Hamill, his girlfriend at the time. Jurors heard Balbar say in a recorded conversation with an undercover police officer Hamill was waving a machete around the night he beat her to death with a hammer. Gehl found a machete in a downtown apartment building’s boiler room that Gehl was led to by undercover officers.

“I saw a machete jammed in underneath the wooden shelf,” he said. 

“I tested (the blade and the handle) for the presence of blood,” Gehl said. “Both were negative.”

Balbar’s lawyer, Jim Blazina, asked Gehl if environmental factors can cause blood to deteriorate over time.

“You can’t say there was never blood on it, can you?” he asked.

“Correct,” Gehl replied.

Gehl was assigned to the murder case in 2003 after he responded to the discovery of a woman’s body in the Thompson River. When he attended the examination of the body in Royal Inland Hospital’s morgue, he said he traced “crescent shape” wounds on the body’s head.

Four years later in December 2007 Gehl, under the guidance of undercover officers, recovered and photographed evidence related to the case.

The undercover team was working with Balbar to convince him he was joining an organized criminal investigation in an RCMP-managed “Mr. Big” Sting. The officers, who cannot be named under a court ordered publication ban, took Balbar to Kamloops after he made his confession so he could show them several locations related to the murder, along with evidence which he allegedly disposed of. Gehl also assisted in filming the men as they travelled to locations. He also filmed undercover officers relaying the information Balbar gave at each stopping point.

Some of the locations included an apartment building on Oak Road, the Kamloops Indian Reserve, Schubert Drive and Indian Point.

The trial continues Friday afternoon.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at or call 250-319-7494. To contact an editor, email or call 250-718-2724.

News from © iNFOnews, 2014

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